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Zombies at the Dinner Table?

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Do you ever encounter a kid who just won’t seem to engage in spiritual conversations?

I just received the following encouraging note from “Josh,” a youth worker who happens to also be a foster dad:

I wanted to share with you that our family just began your Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers last night. I have a 16-year-old foster daughter who has been with us for 5 months now, and she hasn’t responded much to spiritual things. We only went through the first few opening pages of the book – setting the stage, so to speak, for future family devotionals with this – but she interacted with those pages more than she has with any other family devo we’ve done. Her reactions ranged from laughter to, “Does it really say that?”  It was fun to read with those pages with her and the other kids.

Anyway, since our family is not so typical, it is nice to have a not-so-typical devotional that we can go through together. I’m thankful that you have written it. I hope this is an encouraging reminder that God is using you for kingdom impact…even through zombie stories.

It’s so awesome to see God using this resource to impact young people.

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The Gospel According to the Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 3

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Every week The Walking Dead forces record audiences to wrestle with morality issues, which is probably why Talking Dead’s Chris Hardwicke read this question from a fan after this week’s episode, Isolation:

“It seems like everyone is losing loved ones. Do you think it’s important to care about people during a zombie apocalypse or is survival the only goal?”

Rick and Hershel seem to be wrestling with that very issue in this episode when Hershel insisted on risking his own life to go and care for the sick:

Rick: Hershel, if you go in there you’re gonna get sick.

Hershel: We don’t know that. What we do know is that these people’s symptoms need to be controlled.

Rick: Hershel, please! We can wait.

Hershel: Listen… You step outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water; you risk your life. And now days you breathe and you risk your life. Every moment now, you don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for. Now I can make these people feel better and hang on a little bit longer. I can save lives. That’s reason enough to risk mine, and you know that.

Hershel puts on his mask and heads into the infected cell block to care for the sick.

The group’s compassion is slowly being transformed. Last season we saw them pass a helpless hitchhiker with no regard. Now, the group is beginning to let others in and risk their own lives to help people in need.

The show continues to provoke everyone to ask deep questions about morality. Even Marilyn Manson confessed this week, “I love that it’s a zombie show, but it’s essentially about morality.”

So what is the right response to the question asked above? Is it important to care for others even when it endangers our own life?

Here are some discussion questions about this week’s episode that help us process these deep issues.

SEASON 4, EPISODE 1 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. This week we saw several of our favorite characters fighting to survive attacks from walkers. If you could only choose one of these characters to travel with in this post apocalyptic world, which one would you pick? Why?
  2. Why was Tyreese so slow to get up and get out of the car?
  3. Why is Hershel so compelled to help the sick?
  4. Why is Maggie so hesitant for him to help the sick in isolation, even though Glen is in there?
  5. Hershel talked about how in this world they don’t have much choice. Every choice they make, they seem to risk their lives. Then he says, “The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.” Do you agree with Hershel?
  6. What would you do if you were Hershel, Maggie or Rick and you were wrestling with the moral decision of risking your life to help others?

Read the words of Jesus from the book of John:

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. (John 13:34,35 NLT)

7. What does he command us to do in this verse?
8. What does Jesus say this love will do?
9. How does loving others prove we are disciples of Jesus?

 Jesus paints a picture of what this looks like in his famous story of the sheep and the goats, describing exactly what we can do to show our love for Him:

35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ (Matthew 25: 35-36, NLT)

At the end of this story, Jesus makes it clear who we are serving, when we help others:

‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25: 40, NLT)

10. According to Matthew 25:40, when we care for others, who are we doing it to?
11. What are situations in your life where you have to risk something to help others?
12. How can you reach out to others this week?

For more scripture on this subject, also read James 1:27, Deut 15:11, or Lev 19:10.

Zombie-Guide-SMDIALOGUE WITH TEENAGERS ABOUT MORAL ISSUES JUST LIKE THIS IN JONATHAN’S POPULAR NEW BOOK, THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR TEENAGERS

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The Gospel According to the Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 2

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After a week of waiting in anticipation after last week’s cliffhanger ending of Season 4’s record-breaking premiere episode of The Walking Dead, audiences are beginning to fear a new enemy this season… the virus.

An impressive 13.9 million viewers returned to watch The Walking Dead Sunday night, a number not quite as large as the week prior, probably because many people were like me, watching Payton Manning return to Indy to battle the Colts, only to watch a recorded The Walking Dead the next day. Episode 2, “Infected,” still drew the second biggest audience for the show, and probably will prove to be the second most watched show of the week, only beat out by the Broncos’ depressing loss.

“Infection” began with a dead Phineas… er… I mean… Patrick (who will ever be known to teenagers as the voice of the beloved cartoon character Phineas) roaming the halls looking for flesh—a gory beginning to Episode 2.

Chaos ensues, over a dozen are killed, and the newly formed council decides to began isolating those who were exposed to this apparent virus.

Meanwhile, Michonne seems to be fighting an internal battle… fighting to not “care.”

That’s what I love about this series; each show always provides some great points of discussion about real life, despite the fictional premise. The Walking Dead fans know Michonne is damaged goods. (Who isn’t in this fictional post-apocalyptic world where the dead walk?) And like many who have lost loved ones, Michonne resists drawing close to people because she knows if she cares… she risks hurt.

This week a conversation between Beth and Michonne particularly caught my attention. Michonne was being hard on herself for putting herself in a precarious situation causing others to have to save her. At Roughly 38 minutes into the episode (with commercials), she and Beth talk in a cell:

Michonne: I was so stupid. When I fell… they should have just left me out there.

Beth: Now that’s stupid. We care about you.

Michonne: They could have gotten hurt.

Beth: When you care about people, hurt is kind of part of the package.

Almost 10 minutes later, Beth asks Michonne to hold Rick’s baby. Michonne refuses at first, but then reluctantly holds her. As the baby warms up to Michonne, we see Michonne start to be encaptured by the baby’s innocence and need for care. Michonne begins crying, perhaps because she started to care.

Here are some questions you can use to help you discuss this:

SEASON 4, EPISODE 2 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. What do you think the council should do now that infection is the new formidable enemy?
2. Who do you think is the person feeding zombies and burning bodies? Is this the same person?
3. Why did Rick not want Carl to name the pigs in the previous episode?
4. Why was Michonne so hard on herself for needing to be rescued by Carl?
5. Beth told Michonne, “When you care about people, hurt is kind of part of the package.” Explain what Beth meant.
6. Why was it hard for Michonne to let people “in” and care for her?
7. Why did Michonne cry when she held the baby?
8. In a world where many people find it easier to just look after themselves, it’s difficult to care for others. Read the following passage from the Bible:

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:2-5, NLT)

9. What does the verse tells us not to do in verse 3?
10. What does the verse tell us to do in verses 3, 4 and 5?
11. What are ways you can “think of others as better than yourselves”?
12. What are ways you can “not look out for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too”?
13. What is one way you can specifically care for other this week?

DISCUSS THIS FURTHER IN CHAPTER EIGHT OF THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR TEENAGERS, “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR… AS LONG AS HE HAS A PULSE”

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The Gospel According to the Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 1

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The last few months the world waited in anticipation for October 13th, not to see if the Broncos or the Chiefs could stay undefeated… but to see how a small group of survivors would survive out on their own surrounded by the walking dead.

The fan base of The Walking Dead has expanded way beyond a handful of comic book geeks. In fact, the Season 4 Premiere of The Walking Dead garnered more viewers than any other show this year in the 18-49 age bracket, with 16.1 million total viewers. Not only is this a few million more viewers than the already impressive Season 3 finale, but the Season 4 premiere was actually “the most-watched show in the demo on any channel, broadcast or cable, this fall, and that includes sports. Not even an NFL game has drawn more 18-49 viewers this season.”

The episode introduced some key plot points to the popular series:

  • The group of survivors now has a council that meets and governs
  • They’ve began farming, trying to provide some of their own food
  • They’ve allowed more people into their little prison community

And the most intriguing element:

  • They now ask “three questions” of people who seek to become part of their community

We’re introduced to the “three questions” in the season premier as Rick encounters Clara, a woman in the woods. Clara begs for help for her and her husband. Rick explains that their group has an interview process, a “litmus test,” if you will, which helps the group ascertain if someone can join their little community. It isn’t until near the end of the episode where we hear the three questions:

  1. How many walkers have you killed?
  2. How many people have you killed?
  3. Why?

In The Talking Dead, the talk show immediately following The Walking Dead, Chris Hardwick interviewed actor Andrew Lincoln (who plays Rick) about these three questions. Lincoln elaborates:

“We ask these (questions) and if they give any answer we think is suspect, or the way they answer it is suspect, then they don’t come back. So it’s basically just a buffer, a first shield, and then its’ a matter of proving yourself. But we had to make some judgment calls… it shows the evolution of the morals in the show.”

The three questions were the brainchild of Scott Gimple, executive producer of the show, wanting to show the transformation of the values of the characters. Rick, for example, didn’t want to let any people in until the end of Season 3. So these three questions show the group’s attempt at showing compassion in a chaotic world.

This show excels at presenting situations like this, provoking discussions about morality.

Here are some questions you can use to help you discuss the moral issues Season 4, Episode 1 brought up this week:

(Note, I’ll always start with lighter questions, then get deeper.)

SEASON 4, EPISODE 1 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Who is your favorite character now that Season 4 has began? Why?
  2. What advancements have been made in this little community since the end of Season 3? What advancements would you want to see?
  3. What weaknesses do you think exist in their community?
  4. How do these “three questions” help them evaluate prospects for their community? What does each question reveal?
  5. What change do you see in the group’s “moral compass” this season compared to last season?
  6. Describe a time when you wanted to reach out to someone, but you didn’t, in fear of your family’s or your own safety? How do we know what is right in these situations?
  7. Where do specifically go for answers?
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The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for TeenagersDISCUSS THIS FURTHER IN CHAPTER TWO OF THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR TEENAGERS, “WHY PROVERBS IS MORE RELEVANT THAN EVER BEFORE” – CHECK IT OUT IN THIS FREE DOWNLOAD OF THE FIRST FEW CHAPTERS